Welcome to PYMNTS.com’s Midyear Review: a look into what the leaders of the payments industry have seen and accomplished this calendar year, and how they see trends playing out for the rest of 2013. We ask a top executive from each payments player the same six questions about how the industry has improved, what it still needs, and how his or her company plans to stay ahead of the competition in a complex and dynamic payments world.
In this edition, we speak to Ken Paull, CEO at ROAM, to learn why he thinks tablets and cloud-based solutions will be important as 2013 progresses. Plus, how has ROAM begun its push into international markets? Find out below.
PYMNTS.com: What are some of company’s name key accomplishments this year?
Ken Paull: ROAM has made a lot of great strides this year. We’ve been very aggressive in executing on our product roadmap and have already launched a number of new products since the start of 2013. The first was ROAMpay X4, the latest evolution of our mobile point of sale application, which allowed our customers to move from mobile payment acceptance to true mobile point of sale. The app includes features like offline processing, configurable inventory management and previous purchase recognition. The app’s white labeling capabilities have also become a huge differentiator for ROAM.
Another major product release was the RP350x, the world’s first ever PCI-PTS and SRED-certified Chip and Sign mobile card reader. The EMV-approved reader provides a low cost solution for enabling Chip and Sign payment acceptance. Another EMV-approved product that ROAM is now offering is the iCMP Chip & PIN Mobile Companion. Built on Ingenico’s Telium2 platform, the iCMP enables acceptance of all payment methods including EMV chip and PIN, magstripe and NFC.
We’ve also had a number of key customer wins in 2013 – some of which we can disclose and some of which we’re contractually obligated to keep under wraps. Since so many of our customers take advantage of our platform’s white labeling capabilities, we very often end up being the “behind the brand” company. For example, this year we’ve already helped a major acquirer launch into the mobility space. We’ve also enabled a major alternative payments company accelerate its mobility program worldwide. We’ve also helped a major global retailer implement an enterprise mobile POS system by integrating with their backend ERP system. While these are all exciting milestones for both ROAM and our customers, we’re currently unable to disclose details about these deals at this point in time.
One last thing to highlight is the growth of our company, team and office space. As we’ve begun our international expansion using Ingenico’s worldwide distribution channels and support structures, we’ve made some tremendous progress both internationally and in the U.S. We rebuilt our management team with a number of strategic hires, our office space went from 12,000 to 20,000 square feet and our headcount has nearly doubled in size.
What have you seen this year so far in payments that has surprised you?
2013 has proven to be a very interesting year in payments thus far. One of the things that has surprised me is the fact that with all of these new players entering the mobile payments ecosystem, some of the major software and hardware providers that you’d expect to have already become a major force in this arena have still yet to make a huge impact in the United States. Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple have all started to make some traction in this market, but not nearly to the degree that I would have expected by now. I do believe that it’s only a matter of time before each of these companies play a key role in this ecosystem in some way, shape or form.
What do you think is still missing?
While a lot of progress has been made over the first half of the year, I believe there’s a lot more that can be done around the creation of value-added services surrounding the core mobile payment applications. So far, I haven’t seen a lot of expansion into the creation of value added applications like offers, loyalty programs, prepaids, etc. Such value-added services were a natural progression in the countertop payment terminal space, and so I believe it’s only a matter of time before the same evolution takes place in mobile payments.
Another area that I think is still fairly underdeveloped is the mobile wallet space. To date, there is still no real mobile wallet that’s available for mainstream distribution, except for a few very specific use cases.
What do you think is in store for the rest of the year?
With the proliferation of mobile devices, we’re starting to see other operating systems claim some of the market share from iOS. From speaking with our customers and partners, we’re also seeing a huge uptake in the use of tablets for mobile payment acceptance. And it’s no longer just the iPad. Android tablets are becoming widely adopted in both large enterprises and small business. In the past, we saw the majority of our customers typically using smartphones, but now even the smaller merchants are starting to leverage the larger screen size and enhanced functionality that these tablets provide.
Cloud-based solutions are also very much on the horizon. They’ve been coming for a while and now everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon. We’re starting to see a lot of partnerships being formed and new products being launched in this space. Between tablets and cloud-based POS, I think there’s going to be a lot of activity combining these two technologies throughout the remainder of 2013.
Another shift in the market that we’ll be seeing more of in the coming months and even years to come is the use of mobile POS in major enterprises. In the past, all of the focus was on the low tiers of the market. I think as 2013 continues, we’ll start to see a lot more enterprise activity, as well as more multi-use case scenarios. Rather than just using mobile POS for taking a payment, we expect to see a lot more integration with backroom functions.
What can we expect to see from ROAM (that you can disclose)?
The next six months are going to be very exciting here at ROAM. We have over half a dozen major customer announcements in the works. The majority of the deals we’ll be announcing are U.S.-based, but we’ll also have a number of international successes that we will not be able to disclose until the following year.
We also have a revolutionary product launch on the horizon that will not only take our platform to the next level, but will change the landscape of the entire mPOS ecosystem. With this new product release, we expect to see some significant traction in the U.S., but an even more monumental impact internationally.
In order to meet all of these aggressive goals, we’re heavily investing in R&D and are continuing to hire the industry’s brightest, most talented individuals to work on innovating and expanding our platform’s capabilities. By the end of the year, we will have more than doubled the size of the company.
Ken Paull, CEO of ROAM
Ken has over 20 years in senior management roles in the electronic payments industry including senior vice president at RBS Lynk (now WorldPay), vice president at Triton Systems and general manager at VeriFone. He was responsible for building and rapidly growing what is now WorldPay’s national account payments division while also directing the turnaround of what had been a declining ATM processing business. While at Triton, the company surpassed NCR as the second largest domestic ATM supplier and also became the global leader in retail ATM deployments. At VeriFone, Ken built their major account, retail division which has become one of the largest segments of their business. Most recently, Ken has held positions of board director at Access to Money, director at Market Platform Dynamics and president of Pax. A native of the Boston area, Ken holds a B.S. in Marketing and Communications from Babson College, as well as an MBA in Telecommunications Management from Golden Gate University.